Many people and organizations tout massage for recovery and recuperation. In addition to feeling good, massage is supposed to cleanse your body, unstop energy pathways in some traditions, and help athletes recover faster from intense workouts. But does it really do all those things?
Massage Feels Good
There’s no denying a well-done massage feels good, and this is a significant benefit. Having someone take the time to pamper you, rub you all over, and just take an hour or so to relax, feels great.
This is one of the best aspects of massage for recuperation, and is commonly underrated. You don’t need to describe your massage benefits in mystical terms, it can just feel really good.
Does Massage “Cleanse” your Body?
Cleanse, as in waste products? Cleanse you of lactic acid, other bad metabolic waste products, and help rejuvenate your body? Not really.
Nothing can really help your body process lactic acid faster, or help your muscles grow stronger. Only sleep and rest can do that. Massage may feel good, it can relax you and help you rest (indirectly helping your muscles to recuperate), but it won’t directly help you.
Most of that “cleansing” stuff, chakra clearing, and unstopping of energy meridians is quaint hogwash. Fun, entertaining, and mildly interesting but there’s nothing there to really support it.
Destroy Trigger Points & Chronic Pain
Here is where massage really shines and where it can help your muscles recuperate faster which will get you back to feeling great and exercising sooner.
Muscle trigger points are small patches of tightened, tense muscle. You probably call them “muscle knots” or “that one painful part of my back”. They can occur in any muscle in your body.
You probably have experience with them in the past. If you’ve ever asked someone, “Could you massage my shoulders?” Then said, “Right there, that’s good!” Then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Trigger points hurt a lot and detract from your muscle performance! They are also a common source of difficulty to diagnose chronic pain.
Luckily, massage is great for breaking them down and helping your body get back in good working order. The massage process will crush the tense parts of your muscles (a bit painful), forcing them to relax and getting rid of your pain.
Now, if you’ve had tight shoulders for years (or even decades) you might not get them completely relaxed with just one massage. But a massage is a great way to help them start to relax.
A Psychological and Physical Reward
A massage is a great personal reward for an achievement. Most people who are on a diet think longingly of chocolate cake and other tasty goodies, or want to reward losing weight with new clothes. But consider a massage for a second.
A massage doesn’t disrupt your diet, and is a great way to relax. The happiness of losing weight and feeling better about your body gets heightened by someone kneading you and you actually feel how much thinner your body is. And if you have been exercising a lot, it’s a nice pick-me-up. For both your mind and body, it’s a great experience.
Try Getting a Massage
A massage could really help you. It will feel great and could help get your muscles back into working order.
One Tip: Be very clear with whoever is giving you the massage about how you want it. I know I like being pounded to a pulp and I usually have to tell the masseuse more than once to go much harder. Whatever your preference, make sure you’re clear and direct since you’re paying the for massage, so it should be what feels good to you. It won’t work miracles, but a massage can really brighten your day. Try one out and see how much it helps you recuperate!